The Charlottesville 29

If there were just 29 restaurants in Charlottesville, what would be the ideal 29?

Five Finds on Friday: Daniel Kaufman

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Today’s Five Finds on Friday come from Daniel Kaufman of Public Fish & Oyster, now home to one of the best happy hours in town, 4-6 pm every day. Besides special food items like lobster rolls, there are great deals on wine, beer, and classic cocktails like negronis. “Lots of people know about our lobster rolls being offered during happy hour,” says Kaufman, “but the clam strip roll our chef Gregg has worked into the menu is probably the best sandwich I have ever had (bias aside).” Kaufman’s picks:

1) Boquerones at MAS Tapas and Parallel 38. “Perhaps it is cheating a bit to mention two places here, but I love what both restaurants do with these perfect little fishes. Mas takes a traditional approach serving these vinegar-and-olive-oil marinated white anchovies with lemon and garlic. P38 takes them in a different direction adding a touch of Maras red pepper which adds a welcome hint of spice. Either way, they are probably my favorite snack food.”

2) Xiao Long Bao (Steamed Pork Soup Dumplings) at Taste of China. “I am a dumpling junkie, and was so happy to see someone local doing real Soup Dumplings. Taste of China serves them perfectly steamed and filled with the most delicious molten-lava-hot broth just waiting to scald the hell out of your mouth. Every bit worth the pain involved.”

3) Scallion Bubble Pancakes at Peter Chang’s China Grill. “The first time I saw these delivered to a table, I thought it was the most ridiculous looking dish I had ever seen. Two basketball-sized balls of fried dough served alongside some brownish-yellowish sauce. I was in love the first time I had them. You have to eat them before they get cold and when you do, they have the most amazing chewy texture that comes to life when dipped in the sweet curry sauce served along side.”

4) Mexican Street Corn at Al Carbon. “Street corn has shown up on countless menus in the last year, but I haven’t tasted one that tops these guys. They make theirs with fresh cotija cheese and a spicy/sweet mayonnaise concoction and finish it with a hint of lime juice which adds the perfect hint of acidity to the creamy sauce. The perfect accompaniment to their amazing chicken.”

5) Shaved Salad at Oakhart Social. “This is the best salad I have ever had, and I know I’m not alone on this one. Dates, apple, arugula, watermelon radish, fennel, toasted breadcrumbs. Sweet, bitter, crunchy, tart, creamy all works together harmoniously. I’d happily go vegetarian if I got to eat this every day of my life.”

Five Finds on Friday: Derek Mansfield

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Today’s Five Finds on Friday come from Derek Mansfield of Tilman’s, the new spot that some are saying is just what the Downtown Mall needed, with eat-in or takeout sandwiches, cheese, wine, beer, and gourmet items. Mansfield’s favorite way to enjoy it is “sitting at the bar with The Big Board (our best cheese and charcuterie of the moment) and a glass of our Scaia Corvina in front of me.” Mansfield’s picks:

1)  Tacos de Lengua, Mexican Style at La Michoacana. “The most authentic taco place in town, and truly the only place I’ve had good lengua anywhere in the area. The whole menu is fantastic, but I have to say I go for three tacos (always one lengua) more often than anything else.”

2) A Dozen Oysters and a Glass of Chablis at Public Fish & Oyster. “Delicious, fresh shucked, interesting oysters that rotate regularly enough to keep the interest piqued. All this provided by an extremely knowledgeable and friendly staff in a San Francisco wharf-like atmosphere.  Unique and fantastic!”

3) Manhattan followed by the BBQ Platter at The Whiskey Jar. “Come for the bourbon, stay for the great local food, and stay longer for the entertainment. All in a warm welcoming environment. I bring the family, go with out of town guests, or just stop by for a drink and a chat with the awesome team there.”

4) Anything Savory at The Pie Chest. “Thank goodness for Rachel and The Pie Chest!  They have brought a great new concept to Charlottesville, and I love finding out what’s in the case. Pro tip: go early enough to not miss out because when it’s gone, it’s gone.”

5) Steak Bavette at Bizou. “Classic French bistro meal in a classy bistro setting. Great room, great buzz, phenomenal wine list, and a friendly team that’s happy to hang for a second at your table and have a chat about what’s happening in C’Ville.”

Beer Run Auction Experience Giveway

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The cold of the winter is here, which is a critical time for the area’s hungry.  Never have donations to the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank been more vital.

Here’s you chance to help while also entering to win a seat at a special food and beer event this weekend. Sunday, January 7, at 4 pm is the Beer Run auction experience from The Charlottesville 29 Restaurant Auctions:  The Ultimate Sausage Fest and Beer ClassJosh Hunt, owner of Beer Run and Kardinal Hall, and Hunter Smith, owner of Champion Brewing Company, will walk twelve guests through a variety of styles of beer, including tastings of rare and highly-rated ales. As for food, JM Stock Provisions will generously provide their award-winning charcuterie and sausages to pair with the beer, along with house-made sausages from Kardinal Hall.

The auction experience was designed for twelve people, but won by a group of ten with a bid of $1,500. To help generate even more donations for the area’s hungry, the winning group is offering the two open slots in a raffle.

To enter to win, you must: (1) Like or comment on this Facebook post; and(2) Donate here to the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank. Entrants must forward their donation confirmation email to charlottesville29@gmail.com. Each $5 donation will count as one entry. Want one entry? Make a $5 donation. Want to double your chances? Donate $10. Or, if you want ten chances to win, make a $50 donation. And so on. Note: donations for raffle entries are not tax-deductible.

The winner, selected at random, will be announced Friday, January 5 at 4 pm, and will receive both open slots to The Ultimate Sausage Fest and Beer Class. But, there are no losers, as all of your entries will help the area’s hungry. Good luck. And, thank you for your support.

(P.S. Football fans: the NFL playoffs will be televised during the event.)